COMMUNITY champions across North Yorkshire are being celebrated for doing their bit to help others during the Coronavirus lockdown.

Ahead of Volunteers Week which starts on June 1, the County Council is celebrating the selfless acts of kindness that have made a huge difference to people, including some of the county’s most vulnerable residents, since the outbreak of Covid-19.

In a joint effort with district councils, the authority has been working with 23 community organisations to match those without family, friends or neighbours to support from the voluntary sector.

As a result, more than 1,500 volunteers have been helping thousands of people every week with shopping, collecting prescriptions or just having someone to talk to.

There are also countless examples of neighbours looking out for each other and an army of volunteers who have formed groups where they live.

Those volunteers include Joanna Chambers from Marton, who is currently shielding to protect her nine-year-old son, William.

During lockdown Joanna has been helping by making regular befriending calls to others who are self-isolating through the community support organisation in Ryedale.

Mick Hawes is another community champion who has been making a difference where he lives.

He runs a football team in Sherburn, the members of which pooled their subs together to pay for hampers for those less fortunate than themselves.

Such was the success – the team raised more than £1,000 in a single day – that they were asked to get involved with the Sherburn Coronavirus Aid Group, helping with deliveries and leaflet drops.

Mick said: “I think we kind of get tied up with the negative stuff that goes on in the world.

“We forget that there are some wonderful folk and when the chips are down people are willing to roll up their sleeves.

"We’ve had a wonderful response and some of the offers of support and the lengths of people have gone to have been nothing short of remarkable.”

In Bedale, John Walker would normally be out and about volunteering with North Yorkshire’s countryside service.

Instead, he is helping with the local Covid-19 Mutual Aid Group as part of the helpline team.

John said: “Beyond the many tragedies that coronavirus has brought, it has been heart-warming to see communities come together to help each other locally and it has been a privilege to be able to witness the steady rhythm of the natural world continue to move on through the seasons.

“I think everyone’s lives have changed forever and our world has changed completely. It’s shown us how much we need to work together.”

County Council leader Cllr Carl Les said: “This Volunteers Week, we want to thank every single person who is helping someone in North Yorkshire during the current pandemic."